This past Monday I was surrounded by books, books, books at the
Bemidji Library Book Festival, reading stories and talking about
writing. More important, I was in the midst of people who love books,
who read books, who want to hear books read aloud. This whole week
the library will feature writers talking about and reading from their
works, starting each morning with a children’s writer, all events free
and open to the public.

It was good for me to remember why we write—not just because we have
something we want to say but also because we hope someone will listen.
And it was good to remember that we are members of a greater
community than one person in front of a piece of paper or a typewriter
or a keyboard. Stories take shape at those sometimes lonely
locations, population one, but stories move out into the world and
have a life of their own among a larger community.

Soon Hamline faculty and students, writers and book lovers all, will
gather for the summer residency in the Master of Fine Arts in Writing
for Children and Young Adults program. For eleven days we’ll be an
intentional geographic community of folks who love books for children,
who love writing for children. We’ll be excited, enthusiastic, a
little crazed at times, at times despairing of “ever getting it
right.” We’ll be hopeful and thoughtful and sleep deprived. We’ll
listen, learn from each other, discuss what makes good writing, write,
and go home exhausted and exhilarated and eager to put butt in chair
and write more.

I can hardly wait to be among all you like-minded folks who love those
pesky, illusive things we try to write.